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CBC Radio's Eraly Edition gets 'unprecedented' attendance

The road to 2010 passed right through Squamish on the official two-year countdown to the Games Tuesday (Feb. 12) when the CBC's Early Edition radio show was broadcast from Cleveland Avenue.

The road to 2010 passed right through Squamish on the official two-year countdown to the Games Tuesday (Feb. 12) when the CBC's Early Edition radio show was broadcast from Cleveland Avenue.The fabric of Squamish proved tough to tear on as CBC host Rick Cluff tried to stir up tension in Gelato Carina where he hosted the Early Edition.While the show's theme "The Road to the Games " suggested a focus on the highway, Cluff didn't shy away from other prickly subjects such as the future of the Oceanfront Lands, or the public's dissatisfaction with rampant development. But it took hours for the community to take the bait."We did our research," Cluff said after going off the air at about 8:40 a.m. "As much as I tried to hit the hot button issues, no one would respond until the end."The café stayed packed throughout the show with a steady stream of about 50 people mingling with producers, cheering at every transition, and groaning at clichés such as "squeamish in Squamish.""It's unprecedented to have an audience this size, and it's been this size since before 6 a.m.," said Cluff.But unlike public hearings where a crowded room often leads to long and heated discussions, this group was decidedly cheery."A lot of us listen to Rick Cluff every morning so it's like 'woohoo'," said Kate Inman, who snagged a front row seat by the stage.VANOC CEO John Furlong made a brief appearance, announcing the launch of the call to volunteers, and quickly exiting to attend other business.Several community leaders also got airtime as they were invited to give their take on local issues. BC Museum of Mining director Kristen Clausen, Squamish Historical Society president Bianca Peters, and Callaghan Valley Local Organizing Committee board member Denise Imbeau were just a few of the guests who put a positive spin on the town's growth and proximity to the upcoming Winter Games."I think it will just make us go in the path we want to go with more confidence," said Clausen."It certainly is going to open us up to the rest of the world," said Peters, noting that Squamish has not always been taken seriously in the past."I think we have to remember that we are peoplewe're not overlay," said Imbeau, adding that Squamish is poised to ditch its "on-the-way to Whistler" reputation.An entrancing performance by 13-year-old Jocelyn Petit on fiddle seemed to be the icing on the cake for the community spirit in the room. But as 8 a.m. crept closer, at which point Cluff was slated to speak with Mayor Ian Sutherland, the conversation took a turn.In an interview with Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation chair John Turner, resident Peter Harker called Sutherland "the gold commissioner" of the town's "development gold rush."He said the district rolls out the red carpet for developers and forgoes community outreach."We don't want anymore condos. We're tired of that," said Harker.Test of Metal race director Cliff Miller slammed the highway as an impediment to active transportation and described the town's failure to embrace the Olympics."I think [the highway] is dividing the community even more than it used to be," he said. "Here we are two years from the Games, and for most of us, we have no idea what's going on herebesides the highway we haven't done anything in preparation for the Olympics."Cluff encouraged the crowd to save all their questions for the mayor, but Sutherland was nowhere to be found.Minutes before the interview, a pair of producers stood staring out the window, while another lingered on the sidewalk, asking passing middle-aged men if they were him.Sutherland slipped in moments before his interview began and kept up an amicable composure while facing a number of questions. He agreed that Squamish needed to preserve its connectivity and ensure there were adequate options for crossing the highway.In response to the "gold commissioner" comment from Harker, Sutherland noted that council as a whole makes decisionson development."I'm not the one-man show as you like to portray it," he said.The crowd gave one more cheer as the show came to end. Cluff signed off with praise for their impressive turnout.

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